Union warning over deadly disease in Thorseby miners

Thoresby Colliery which closed on Friday.Thoresby Colliery which closed on Friday.
Thoresby Colliery which closed on Friday.
Union bosses in Mansfield are urging the government to provide better health checks for ex-miners.

It comes after two former Thoresby Colliery workers were found to have a deadly lung disease – which could potentially be affecting thousands of ex-miners.

The Mansfield-based Union of Democratic Mineworkers paid for the two miners to have scans which revealed they are suffering with side effects of pneumoconiosis from working in the mines.

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But the union said both men had previously been given the all-clear when given routine chest X-rays at work.

However, Jeff Wood, union president, said the X-rays are “not enough” and he has accused UK Coal of failing its workers by not offering CT scans.

He said the organisation, which was the largest coal mining business in the UK, did not think CT scans were neccessary because X-rays were “sufficient enough”.

Mr Wood said: “We have been saying for some years that these chest X-rays are just not good quality enough to pick up this disease.

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“So many more ex-miners could be suffering with this and not realise it, because they haven’t had a CT scan.”

Mr Wood, in a letter to Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale, said that of the small number of ex-miners already tested, 40 per cent of them suffer with the disease.

The union has joined a group of MPs, including Sir Alan and Sherwood MP Mark Spencer, in urging the government to fund CT scans for all ex-miners.

The MPs are among a group of 25 from different parties who have sent a letter to the government over ths issue.

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Pneumoconiosis is a long-term disease that can be caused by the inhalation of coal and stone dust in mines.

Sypmptoms can vary, but include shortness of breath, coughing and a tight chest.

UK Coal was unavailable for comment.